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Joni

Preventing cakes from falling in the middle

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Joni   

Made a banana cake last night...tested it and it was done in the middle...took it out and after about 30 minutes, the middle "fell" and was so much wetter than the sides.

Perhaps I should wrap the pan? Too much banana? I did use the xanthum gum powder which the recipe said gave it a finer texture.

Thanks for your advice!

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I hate it when that happens!

How much xanthan gum did you use? I just don't know what xanthan could possibly add that the banana wasn't already doing.

What was your formula? Is this an eggless cake?


Edited by K8memphis (log)

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Joni   

just one teaspoon xanthum. used two eggs, but separated them. Added stiff egg whites and folded in. Thanks...

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Your formula is off.

One teaspoon of xanthan is too much for one regular recipe and it's not needed if you are using real bananas in there. A quarter teaspoon or a half teaspoon max per recipe for non-fruited cakes. And if you have a nice recipe it's not needed at all. It sounds like a cool secret ingredient but it's not so good really.

I mean a tablespoon of applesauce (I prefer the babyfood kind) does as much as the xanthan and it adds a great taste pop too, nothing definite, just mmm this is good.

I experimented with it hot & heavy thinking I found the secret of the ages, mmmnope.

Save it for other applications, whatever they are. :laugh:

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Summer   

I've been using this divine chocolate cake recipe for about a year now. It's this one from Epicurious. It's so rich and delicious. I just love it. The problem is that whenever I make it, it falls slightly in the center. It's not totally collapsed, just a slight indentation in the center.

I treat it no differently when it comes out of the oven than any other cakes I make, yet it always falls slightly in the center. So really, I don't think it's anything I'm doing, I think it's the recipe. And forget about making cupcakes with the recipe. I tried that once and they all had little wells in the center. (I quickly filled them up with ganache and topped with Italian Meringue Buttercream and they were the hit of the 4th of July party, so all was not lost, but still...)

Any thoughts on why it collapses somewhat? I just love the flavor and texture of this cake, it's just a pain to deal with that well in the center...

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baroness   

The chocolate-orange combination sounds lovely!

Have you tried either: very slightly reducing the liquid in the recipe OR baking just a few minutes longer?

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Summer   

I haven't tried reducing the liquid. I'll try that next. I have baked a few minute longer and it seems to burn easily on the edges. Perhaps lowing the temperature and baking longer might do the trick.

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emmalish   

I'm far from expert, but some things it could be are underbaking (either time or temperature could be off – as baroness suggested), too much leavener, undermixing... I'm sure someone who knows more than I will be able to look at the recipe and figure it out.

Does your cake look like it rises properly and then falls? Does it fall while it's still in the oven? Or is it fine until you take it out of the oven?

Another question is are you sure your oven is calibrated properly? Mine is so far off I rely on an oven thermometer instead of the dial.

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emilyr   

Try not greasing/flouring the sides (only do the bottoms) of your cake pans. This will give the cake something to climb as it rises, and it may do so more evenly.

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If the cake is rising in the oven but then collapsing I would suggest continuing cooking beyond the normal time but at a slightly lower oven temperature to prevent the burning you describe. This should help dry out the cake and firm the structure.

Another idea might be to add some kind of starch to the batter. A lot of French sponges, for instance, use potato starch or cornflour. Sieve it in with the flour at the start and see how you go. This should help add structure.

R

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Summer   

It seems to rise properly, then fall once out of the oven. No, I've never checked the temp of my oven but it might be slightly under because everything always takes longer than the suggested range of cooking times. (If a recipe says 50-60 minutes, I know it will be at least 60 for example).

RichardJones - how much would I add?

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If adjusting the heat doesn't work I was wondering about structure. I don't know how experienced a baker you are so this may not apply at all. I was wondering if your ingredients are at room temp and are you creaming the butter and sugar long enough?

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Summer   

Yup, ingredients are all at room temp and I'm pretty sure I'm creaming long enough. I mean, I don't do it any differently than any other cake I make and all those turn out fine.

In the reviews a couple people mention that this cake doesn't rise very much, and it doesn't, but nobody mentions the falling in the center. But it happens every single time I make the cake. I just can't find another chocolate cake recipe I like as well as this one flavor-wise.

I'd also be open to a different chocolate cake recipe. I think I like this one so well because it uses melted chocolate as opposed to only cocoa powder. I find that cocoa powder cakes have a particular flavor to them that I'm not partial to. Every time I make this cake, people go bonkers. I mean, it's really incredible.

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emmalish   

My understanding is that if a cake rises in the oven but falls when jostled or removed from the oven, it's because the structure of the cake isn't strong enough because it hasn't finished cooking, whether because the temperature of the oven is too low or the time is too short. I would say get an oven thermometer (they're well under $10), and see where your temperature is really at, then you can adjust either temperature or time accordingly.

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JarrodL   

My recommendation would be to increase the insulation of the cake tin....say, a layer of aluminium foil and then four or so layers of baking paper and then a few more layers on the outside of the tin to prevent that burning. Then crank the temperature up a bit higher (not a lot) and try again. If it sags, but doesn't burn, go higher again until you find the sweet spot. The middle usually sags due to the denser centre not being cooked fully and dragging the top down as it settles when cooling. The problem is, going higher results in burning and cracking, unless your insulate the tin appropriately.

Hope this helps!

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Are you baking the cake in the amounts they recommend for the pan sizes? They seem to be pretty thin. I have a great vanilla cake that bakes great in sheets or thin layers but will fall in the center if I try to make thicker layers with it. I add some extra flour to make thicker layers and it comes out great that way. I would suggest trying to add about 1/4 cup more flour for the recipe that you posted the link to. I'm pretty sure it will work. If you try it or the other suggestions, please let us know if any of them worked out well.

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hac   

hi, just wanted to share my 2cents, ive had some experience with cakes that rises up and, sadly going back down after baking but not by me, but a friend/worker i was training to help me out. whenever i would bake my chocoalte cake recipe, it would be plump and rises beautifully, but whenever he makes them the well appears, so i made a lot of observations on how he does it. for me it was 2 things, first was the temp of the oven, and 2nd was the mixing of the eggs, are you sure you werent putting them in too fast? i dont want to sound bad but just sharing. to address my friends problem was me fixing his timing with the eggs when all was well mixed and creamed before putting in the next one. once we got through every cake came out perfect already. another tip would be the foil mentioned above. you could slow bake the cake a bit with a tin foil on top of it to reduce crisping the top right away and make the cake top heavy.

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My chocolate sour cream cake always sinks in the middle and the sides rise as they're supposed to. It's done in a 10 inch removable bottom pan, usually goes for 10 minutes longer than the recipe calls for and still sinks in the middle. All of my ingredients are at room temp when I start. I cut this cake into three layers and I dislike having a huge divot in my cake... Any advice is welcome!

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ChrisZ   

You probably have too much leavening agent. I'm guessing the recipe has something like bicarb soda to react with the sour cream. If you use too much then the cake will rise too fast, and all the gas will bubble out of the top before the cake has time to set, resulting in a sunken middle. So conversely, using less bicarb (and perhaps a cooler over) will result in less gas, but this allows the cake to firm up and set without losing it - so it won't sink.

FWIW I have a chocolate sour cream cake recipe I make a lot, and I always had the same problem. One day I doubled the recipe but forgot to double the amount of bicarb, and it came out perfectly. Since then I have used half the amount of bicarb and have had perfect results every time.

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